There was a time in 2014 when a movie became the major talk of the town. Every place you went to, every person you met would ask you, “Did you watch Bangalore Days?”, and then you would have at least a small discussion about the movie before you went back to whatever you were doing. The movie became so popular among the entire South Indian audience and also travelled a little to the North Indian movie watchers. For many, it became the movie that made them start watching other Malayalam movies. Bangalore Days was that cult movie that dealt with a modern subject. Now, 7 years later, this movie is still the talk of the town, and there are many reasons as to why.
The best part about the movie is its ensemble cast. While it is generally difficult to assign equal parts weightage to all the characters in a movie, Anjali Menon did justice to that idea. With Aju’s (Dulquer Salmaan) craze for bikes and his determination to prove himself, it may look like he was the hero of the movie. But, Kunju (Nazriya Nazim) and Kuttan (Nivin Pauly) were given equally heavy parts with just the required backstory for each character. It is generally difficult to accept a few actors as cousins or siblings on-screen, especially when they’ve acted as love interests in previous movies. While Nazriya has acted with both Dulquer and Nivin as love interests, it was not difficult for us to accept them as cousins, mainly because of their character arc and the way they were portrayed.
After this movie was released, most viewers started wishing for cousins like the three. With three entirely different characters, their bond and friendship was something that was envied by most. Aju happens to be a stubborn man who does not fall for societal pressures and only does what he wishes to do. Kuttan on the other hand, is a very traditional and naïve person from the backwaters of Kerala, who is still trying to figure out where he fits in the modern world of Bangalore. Finally Kunju, a bubbly and innocent girl who’s aspirations are very simple and yet not respected. She is forced into marriage, but still tries to make the best out of it. The movie is beautiful because these characters, who are poles apart form a bond which is by blood but is also defined by some kind of friendship. The craziness of this bond is captured very well in the wedding scene where Kunju exhales deeply while she sits next to the groom, only for smoke to escape her mouth!
The movie worked not only because of this bond, but also because of the craze around Bangalore. In an interview Anjali Menon said that, for a lot of Malayalis, Bangalore is a dream city because of the modernity and freedom it comes with. The beauty of the film is the balance created by the director. Anjali shows both the countryside and the city. Through Kuttan, she also shows the difference between people who live in both places. But, in no scenario does she justify or prove that one lifestyle is right or the other is wrong.
Bangalore Days is a movie about relationships. While all lead characters have their respective love lives, those are not the only relationships portrayed in the movie. Kuttan’s relationship with his father is one that makes him understand the decision that the latter took. Later, his relationship with his mother, who has been waiting for an opportunity to escape from country-life, is also captured beautifully through Kuttan’s frustration. Sarah’s relationship with her mother, a mother who asks her daughter to get settled first before thinking about marriage, is also unconventional and different. The love Chinamma, Das’ caretaker, has on him is enviable, especially when she calls him ‘Daspaapa’. The bond Kunju creates with Natasha’s parents for redemption on her husband’s behalf was one of the warmest bonds created in cinema.
Even in terms of love relationships, the movie did justice in a very different way. Kunju never thought that she would marry someone as stiff and silent as Das. At one point she even believes that her married life is ruined once and for all. But, once she becomes aware of the truth, the lengths she travels to correct her husband’s past is just admirable. Das also realises his mistakes and while he may not have the capability to express his love directly, he does so adorably by filling his fridge with his wife’s favorite Mango Drink.
Sarah and Aju’s relationship is also a bit unusual. While generally a character like Sarah is pitied and sympathised for their disability, Aju falls in love with her boldness. He never underestimates her and saves her from all the pity that the world is already showering on her. Their understanding is captured wonderfully in the scene where Aju takes her wheelchair for a ride at full speed at the park, with his bike helmet on. And when Aju says “I want to be with you,” to Sarah, for a minute, all of us want to become Sarah just to experience that love.
When Meenakshi leaves Kuttan for her ex-boyfriend, you feel entirely hurt, as though you are the one who is going through a heartbreak. While Meenakshi’s intentions to date Kuttan became very evident, it was something that Kuttan needed to make a choice in terms of his partner. Kuttan is always talking about a traditional and beautiful girl who should even call him ‘chetta’ after their marriage. He falls head over heels in love with Meenakshi because he believes that she is the girl of his dreams. The heartbreak made him realise that his understanding of a ‘perfect woman’ has its own flaws. The movie shows unpredictability when Kuttan, who has always wanted a village girl, married a foreigner and still finds whatever he expected from his dream girl.
Natasha and Shiva’s love story is the most emotional part of the movie, even though it only lasts for a very short-time. In spite of a very small screen-time, Nithya Menen made a lot of the watchers become desperate for a lover like her. Her death really shattered the hearts of many. Fahadh Faasil also did a great job fitting into the sleeve of his character. Fahadh is generally seen with a gleaming smile in most of his movies. So, when the audience saw a stiff and reserved Fahadh in the movie, they were pretty surprised. But he not only managed to justify the character, he also did it wonderfully. Fahadh has two characters in the movie, with Natasha and without her. Those characters were wonderfully distinguished by name. While the bikers called him Shiva, Kunju and her family know him as Das.
Anjali’s directorial brilliance is captured in an elegant way when Kunju and Das finally get together and make love. They have no words for each other, but a lot of emotions. The tattoo on his back showed the inner person he was hiding all this while with Kunju. Another scene that caught the audience with tears in their eyes, is the one where Kunju and Das go to Natasha’s parents seeking redemption for his past mistakes.
The dreams of the three cousins, their tour of Bangalore, and the situations they face while they’re in the city, is the movie in entirety. The three have their own load of issues to deal with. But, when they meet each other they live the moment and try to laugh as much as possible. In every scenario, however, they show that they have each other’s back. Bangalore Days looks like a story with a very well-known idea, but it is a movie that gives you a different perspective on life. Although this movie is taken in modern times in the modern city of Bangalore, it is a movie with conventional yet unpredictable concepts, situations and relationships. In short, it is a movie of surprises!
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This movie has won three Kerala State Film Awards and many more such awards. This is one movie that has not lost its audience even now. After 7 whole years, the movie is still rewatched by many because of the warmth and the content feeling it leaves you with. This movie was, is and will always be a great one because it is one of those rare movies that feels like a tight hug!